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Celebrated chef plants farm-focused restaurant and market in Austin suburb

Celebrated chef plants farm-focused restaurant in Austin suburb

Sonya Cote
Celebrated Austin chef Sonya Cote expands her culinary empire with her new Store House Market + Eatery in Bastrop. Photo courtesy of Eden East

Bastrop just got a little more chef-y. The “most historic small town in Texas,” is the new home to acclaimed Austin chef Sonya Cote’s latest culinary venture, Store House Market + Eatery, opening Wednesday, January 6.

The restaurant and market, which will highlight seasonal products and hyperlocal ingredients, as expected from Austin’s premier locavore chef, is located downtown at 813 Main St. in a historic, two-building complex that includes a sprawling courtyard, an indoor/outdoor bar, and plenty of local charm.

Perched at the corner of Main and Pine streets, the nearly 175-year-old property — which has housed a variety of fascinating establishments, including a funeral home and a brothel — has been transformed into anything but a garden-variety eatery. The new Eden East Farm, which Cote and her husband and partner, David Barrow, uprooted from its former home on Springdale Road in East Austin last year, now flourishes on a 5-acre property just a mile from Store House and will be the go-to supplier for the restaurant and market.

Though you can bet the farm Store House is somewhat of a contrast from the more salt-of-the-earth type of eateries lining Bastrop’s downtown streets, Cote, known for her Eden East and Hillside Farmacy restaurant concepts, doesn’t put down roots on a visionary project without regard for the impact on the local community. As such, she’s ensuring every element of Store House — from the menu and beverage offerings to the market’s pantry merchandise and even the décor and design — champions local purveyors and ingredients, and the property’s storied history.

Scratch-made comfort food will anchor the Store House menu, including Cote’s takes on Southern classics, such as chicken-fried quail knots, butternut queso, smoked pork chops, barbecued shrimp, smothered greens, and gumbo, which will be featured alongside signature dishes like Cote’s smoked-veggie Farm BQ and grass-fed burger.

The hyperlocal approach extends to the drinks menu, with Store House beverage director Brian Floyd of The Line and Weather Up fame rolling out a lineup of signature cocktails and new takes on classic cocktails using locally farmed ingredients. Beer and wine from local wineries and breweries, including Bastrop-based 602 Brewing Company, will round out the beverage menu.

Preserved architectural features, including hand-painted Mexican tiles from the 1890s and original wood doors, bedeck the space, alongside original farm tables from Eden East that Cote had made from loblolly Lost Pines that were salvaged after the Bastrop County wildfires in 2011. Store House’s main dining room will also act as somewhat of an art gallery, with legendary Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater showcasing his mosaic works and other pieces.

Cote’s new enterprise (which has coyly been referred to as “east of Eden East” on social media), may be a rosy example of the grass being greener in Bastrop. With Cote’s Eden East Farm now just up the road and Bastrop ripe for more growth in the hospitality industry, the Austin suburb seems the ideal location for Cote to turn over a new leaf.

The 2018 sale of Springdale Farm in East Austin forced the chef to close her beloved onsite restaurant, Eden East, and move farm operations. But Cote got creative, replanting her Eden East food truck at Desert Door Distillery in Driftwood, where it now operates as Eden West, and moving the farm operations to Bastrop. But as part of a lease agreement Cote signed with developer PSW Real Estate (now StoryBuilt), the new mixed-use development moving into the former Springdale Farm property will include a brick-and-mortar Eden East restaurant location, as well as a microfarm and a farm stand.